Manhunt under way for accomplices of radicalised Islamist after terror attack in central Vienna

At a press conference on Tuesday, Nehammer said six sites in inner-city Vienna were targeted and authorities were working on the assumption there were several more shooters working together.

He said it was unclear if the man and his group were part of a coordinated IS attack. Nehammer said while the first attack occurred near a synagogue, authorities were still assessing whether anti-Semitism was a motive.

A still image from footage reportedly of one of the gunmen in Vienna, Austria.

Nehammer confirmed 15 people were hospitalised with injuries, including a police officer who was expected to recover. ORF said seven were fighting for their lives.

Footage showed gunmen dressed in white jumpsuits running through the Austrian capital’s streets while firing their weapons shortly after 8pm, Vienna time (Tuesday AEDT).

Heavily armed police swarmed the city centre and urged the public to hide inside restaurants and shops. Some video footage showed injured people bleeding outside a restaurant and being treated by shocked patrons.

Vienna’s chief rabbi, Schlomo Hofmeister, told British radio station LBC that he came out of the synagogue and onto the street after hearing gunshots and then saw men shooting at guests of bars and restaurants.

“The gunmen were running around shooting at least 100 rounds or even more in front of our building. People were jumping and running, falling over the tables, running inside the bars, followed by the gunmen also running inside the bars.

“We heard shots all over. Later on when the police arrived […] we heard them asking whether there were any injuries inside and people shouted out of the various bars ‘yes we have two here’, or ‘yes we have three here’.”

Franz Ruf, chief of public safety for police, said more than 1000 police and soldiers from terrorism and specialist teams were working in inner-city where barricades would remain in place.

He said Austria was working with neighbouring countries to establish “strong controls” on its borders amid the possibility the attackers would flee Austria.

Ruf added that more than 20,000 videos of the attacks had been uploaded to a special link, which was helping authorities identify the shooters.

“There are police actions underway,” he said, refusing to give more details as it could impede the manhunt.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said the attacks were “definitely” terrorism.

He said some people had been arrested and disarmed but several remained on the run. They were armed with automatic guns and “professionally prepared”, he added.

Nehammer encouraged families to keep their children at home on Tuesday, advised the inner-city would remain shut and told Vienna residents to avoid leaving home unless absolutely essential.

Upper Austrian police director Andreas Pilsl would not confirm to ORF if there were investigations underway in the state of Upper Austria. He told people in the state not to travel to Vienna.

“Because of the attacks in Vienna we have increased the presence of our forces […] the situation is dynamic, and we are supporting our colleagues in Vienna as much as we can.”

Police officers check a car at the scene after the attack in Vienna.

Police officers check a car at the scene after the attack in Vienna.Credit:AP

Nehammer said his thoughts were with the victims.

“When one of us is attacked, all of us are attacked,” Nehammer said.

The shooting took place hours before the midnight start of a nationwide lockdown, one of several being imposed in Europe to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The area where the shooting took place is packed with bars and Vienna’s main temple, the Seitenstettengasse synagogue.

The president of the Jewish Religious Community in Austria, Oskar Deutsch, said the shooting had occurred “in the immediate vicinity” of the temple but it was closed at the time.

Austrian police say several people have been injured and officers are out in force following gunfire in the capital Vienna.

Austrian police say several people have been injured and officers are out in force following gunfire in the capital Vienna.Credit:AP

A spokesman for Vienna city police, Harald Soeroes, said police were searching for several co-attackers who remained at-large as part of the “hot phase” immediately following the shootings.

“It’s very, very important that every Vienna resident stays at home and observes public information. If you are in a location now, please stay there,” Soeroes said.

The shooting comes amid heightened tensions in Europe. A teacher was beheaded in an attack outside his school in Paris 16 days ago and last week a man beheaded a church worshipper and stabbed two others to death inside the Notre-Dame Basilica in Nice.

“We French share the shock and grief of the Austrian people struck this evening by an attack in the heart of their capital, Vienna,” said French President Emmanuel Macron.

“After France, a friendly country is attacked. This is our Europe. Our enemies must know who they are dealing with. We will not give up.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia “condemns absolutely the cowardly terrorist attacks […] and we stand with the people of Austria as they, even at this time, are working through a very uncertain and fluid situation. We send our best and our support and our sympathies to all of them”.

“For Australians who are in Austria, I urge you to follow the instructions of local authorities and you can also ensure you’re updated through the Smartraveller website.

US President Donald Trump tweeted that “our prayers are with the people of Vienna after yet another vile act of terrorism in Europe”.

“These evil attacks against innocent people must stop. The US stands with Austria, France, and all of Europe in the fight against terrorists, including radical Islamic terrorists.

Police officers stay in position next to a memorial for victims of the Nazi era, after gunshots were heard, in Vienna.

Police officers stay in position next to a memorial for victims of the Nazi era, after gunshots were heard, in Vienna.Credit:AP

Police urged the public to not share footage of the attack on social media, fearing it may assist the attackers.

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Coronavirus Delays Long-Stalled Trial of 9/11 Mastermind, 4 Accomplices

The Chinese coronavirus pandemic has once again delayed the long-awaited death penalty trial of the self-professed 9/11 mastermind and his four co-conspirators held at the U.S. military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, the judge handling the cases revealed recently.

Justice remains elusive nearly two decades after the jihadis executed the attack that left about 3,000 people dead and over 6,000 injured, marking the deadliest assault on U.S. soil.

U.S. officials charged the late Osama bin Laden’s close ally Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) alongside his nephew, Ammar al-Baluchi, accused hijacking trainer Walid bin Attash, facilitator Ramzi bin al-Shibh, and al-Qaeda money man Mustafa al-Hawsawi with war crimes punishable by death for allegedly helping 19 hijackers carry out the heinous attack.

“Our client, this nation, deserves a reckoning,” prosecutor Edward Ryan reportedly told the court last July in pushing for a trial.

Nevertheless, the Chinese coronavirus has pushed the trial back even further following repeated delays throughout the years.

According to military commission documents, the judge handling the case since August, Army Col. Douglas Watkins, said last month:

In response to the Pandemic, the Commanders of U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and Joint Task Force, Guantanamo Bay, have instituted numerous health and welfare-related restrictions (to include quarantine requirements for Commission participants) that make it impracticable for this commission to hold hearings at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay while these restrictions remain in place.

The former judge handling the case, Air Force Col. Shane Cohen, had scheduled the trial for January 2021. In March, Col. Cohen announced his retirement after presiding over the case for less than a year, further fueling the delays.

On Friday, the Washington Examiner noted:

The case’s progress came to almost a complete halt amid the pandemic due to travel and quarantine restrictions on the Caribbean island. The war court permits the five alleged 9/11 plotters to meet with their lawyers only face to face and not by phone or video conference. No hearings have been held since late February, and the trial, which had been slated to begin Jan. 11, 2021, has been postponed for a few months, if not longer, raising questions of whether jury selection will even begin before the 20th anniversary.

The case has been delayed multiple times, following unfavorable Supreme Court decisions under President George W. Bush and due to a controversial and aborted effort by President Barack Obama to try the men in federal court in New York City. The military commissions are a hybrid between a military tribunal and civilian court, authorized by the Military Commissions Act of 2009 after a prior setup was found unconstitutional. Other issues have plagued the court proceedings, including how to handle allegations of torture and the use of classified information during the trial.

It remains unclear exactly when the trial will begin. Last month, documents revealed that the military commission initially suspended all its hearings for 120 days, beginning in late March, but then delayed them further by an additional 30 days.

After canceling planned hearings for September, Judge Watkins rescheduled the proceedings to begin again in late October.

In July, the U.S. government told the court it was was “formulating a plan for the responsible resumption of hearings.”

In comments to the Combatant Status Review Tribuna made in March 2007, KSM confessed to planning the 9/11 attacks.

“I was responsible for the 9/11 operation, from A to Z,” KSM declared. “I was the operational director for Sheikh Osama bin Laden for the organizing, planning, follow-up, and execution of the 9/11 operation.”

The 9/11 Commission report described KSM as “the principal architect of the 9/11 attacks.”

U.S. authorities did not arraign KSM and his four co-conspirators until May 2012, more than a decade after the attacks. American service-members captured KSM in 2003 and transferred him to the GITMO prison in 2006.

Gitmo’s military tribunals have only produced eight convictions, including four overturned entirely and one partially. The remainder reportedly remains on post-trial appeal.

Of the 40 men still held at Guantanamo, two reportedly remain imprisoned after conviction, and only seven, including the five accused 9/11 attackers, face charges before the military commission.

U.S. authorities are holding the remaining 31 without charge or trial. Most (26) of the 40 prisoners are reportedly considered “forever prisoners,” or too dangerous to release.

Five prisoners approved for release by the Obama administration remain in shackles. Some of the released prisoners have re-engaged in terrorist activities.

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